Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kind, Joshua B.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

School of Art


Wyeth; Andrew; 1917- --Criticism and interpretation; Introspection in art


Traditional scholarly research on solitude in the work of American artists, including twentieth-century painter Andrew Wyeth, has frequently taken a pessimistic approach to this important theme. Wyeth's works often present solitude in a special context as a cherished moment of being in the world with an introspective focus. Beyond being a prominent theme in his work, solitude is omnipresent in Wyeth's daily existence, an essential part of his creative process. As a boy growing up in the home and studio of his father, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth was prone to illness and was often left to himself. However, the artist consistently refers to this sort of upbringing in positive terms— as the ideal life for an artist. Beyond learning the craft of painting from his father in a studio setting, young Andrew was introduced to writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Robert Frost. Of these, N.C. was especially fond of Thoreau as a clear embodiment of a Romantic tradition— the artist who flourishes in isolation. In his adulthood, Andrew has lived as an artist with an intense desire for privacy— limiting himself to just two communities, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and Cushing, Maine. The American transcendentalist goal of evoking a sense of the universal through an intense exploration of the particular is as present in Wyeth's imagery as in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau. Wyeth has been significantly influenced by these writers as well as past artists such as Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Rembrandt and Albrecht Diirer. Wyeth's figural works often evoke a strong sense of detachment through many devices, including the avoidance of multiple figure compositions and the presentation of figures from a rear vantage point. These devices not only serve the goals which originated in the theories of Emerson and Thoreau, but also preserve and affirm the solitude of the detached figures. Andrew Wyeth presents solitude in a positive light, reveals a necessity for it, even romanticizes it. He opens up the value of solitude to his own audience not through images of alienation, loneliness or isolation, but through images of introspection.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [92]-95).


x, 200 pages




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